7 Tips for Determining Feasibility of a Business Aviation Trip
While almost any international trip can be set up with sufficient lead time and preparation, there are limitations as to what is doable. The first step in the trip planning process is to determine the feasibility of an intended operation. This involves considerations such as aircraft range; crew duty; availability to permit; visa requirements; and aircraft conformity to RVSM, MNPS, Stage 3, and other mandates. The most extreme implication of not taking all planning elements into account is booking a trip that, in the end, cannot be executed. Working with your 3rd-party provider, as early in the trip process as possible, will maximize options particularly when dealing with short notice requests.
Here are some tips to help navigate the trip planning process:
1. Focus on the basics
There are basic elements to be mindful of when planning a trip and determining feasibility. How will regulations at the destination and customs considerations impact the trip? Will permits be required and visas needed for passengers and/or crew? The destination and airport of entry (AOE) will impact documentation, permit lead times, and international customs clearance requirements. Consider range of the aircraft, crew duty availability, operating curfews, and special events at planned destinations that may impact aircraft parking and airport slot availability.
2. Not all trips are doable
The above considerations and others are important, as they can make or break a trip. If all elements of feasibility are not thoroughly checked, an operator may find himself promising a client services that, in the end, may not be deliverable. Be realistic on what can and cannot be achieved. Last-minute trip requests to joint use civil/military airfield – such as Agra, India (VIAG) or Northolt, London (EGWU) – may not be possible, due to the lead time needed to process appropriate permissions. However, your 3rd-party provider can suggest alternatives. When operating Stage 2 aircraft to Europe, destination choices will be limited.
3. The region you’re flying to will impact planning considerations
Depending upon the country, if the airport is an AOE, various landing or overflight permits, airport slots, prior permission required (PPR), documentation, and visa requirements come into play. A trip to South America can usually be set up with 4-7 days lead time, but if you plan to stop in Venezuela more than twice in a period of 30 calendar days, you’re looking at 30+ days for permit processing. A trip to Brazil will require you to have original aircraft documentation on board. When operating to certain countries in the Middle East, you’ll need a sponsor contact from a local business entity, as this is part of the processing of permit requests. Visa requirements often impact trip planning and feasibility of short- notice trips. Are visas necessary for passengers? Can visas be obtained on arrival? And do crew require special visas, such as “C” type crew visas for China?
4. Consider the type of flight
Charter (non-scheduled commercial) operations often require more permits and lead time than private non-revenue flights. Planning a first-time charter to Italy will consume 45 days lead time and involve rigorous landing permit requirements. When operating to Japan, a copy of the charter agreement must be submitted in advance. Special insurance documentation is needed for charter operations to Mexico. When planning a charter flight to the U.K., be aware that local charter providers may “object” to your permit request if certain freedoms are involved. Even though permit requirements are usually less onerous for private non-revenue operators, there are still issues to consider. Making more than one stop in Japan, for example, will require a permit for either private or charter operations. Brazil mandates a domestic permit for both private and charter operations if you plan to make more than one stop in the country.
5. Guns, pets and cargo can complicate trip planning processes
Having guns onboard your aircraft can complicate trip planning and customs clearances, but this will not usually prevent the trip from taking place, assuming adequate pre-planning. Traveling with an undeclared pet can result in the animal being quarantined, but there are measures that can be taken to avoid such issues. Bringing in-flight catering with you for a second leg of a trip may or may not be possible, depending on the country you are traveling to and the destination airport. Commercial items on board must be declared properly to avoid delays and fines. Traveling with a bearskin rug, for example, may cause delays to ensure that the appropriate documentation is sourced.
6. Documentation requirements can impact trip planning
Aircraft and crew documentation can impact trip planning as well as lead times, so be very careful. Brazil, for example, requires that pilots have ATP licenses, and that licenses be issued by the same country where the aircraft is registered. Having a French-licensed pilot with a certification from UK Civil Aviation Authority to operate a UK-registered aircraft may cause delays when operating to Brazil, as the ATP license and county of registration of the aircraft don’t match. When operating to Bermuda, all operators must carry evidence onboard of a safety management system (SMS). Be aware of all documentation requirements before you go. Best practice is to keep documentation updated and to have copies on file with your 3rd-party provider.
7. Be aware of special operating restrictions
When flying to Israel, operators must depart from approved airports – Newark (KEWR), for example, is an approved departure point, while Teterboro (KTEB) is not – and transmit a special code when entering Israeli airspace. Mexico and Venezuela may bar overflight, resulting in last minute diversions to operators with outstanding navigational fees. You will not be permitted to land at Cuzco (SPZO) or Kathmandu (VNKT) unless you provide evidence of specific simulator training for the approach into those airports. When flying to France, the PIC of a charter flight may not be over 60 years of age.
Step one with any trip request is determining feasibility of the operation. Short-notice trips can be more challenging in terms of permit lead times, documentation requirements, and operational limitations, such as parking at busy Mediterranean destinations during the summer. Best practice is to contact your 3rd-party provider as soon as the possibility of a trip is known, so that passengers and clients can be given realistic options.
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